East Asia CenterNewsletter On-line

The University of Virgina
east asia center
January 1999

 2nd Annual East Asia Distinguished Lecture Raises Intriguing Questions on Southeast Asian Nationalisms

    The most recent East Asia Distinguished Lecture, on November 16, 1998, featured an address by Wang Gungwu of the National University of Singapore entitled “Southeast Asian Perspectives on Nationalism.”  According to Wang, the problem of nation-building has been particularly perplexing and problematic for Southeast Asian nations in the second half of the twentieth century.  In particular, these nations have struggled with the problem of how to approach an essentially alien task—that of building nations out of constructed entities—while at the same avoiding the devastating missteps seen in many European nations throughout this century.  Wang raises the question of whether the difficulties that have thwarted the nations of Southeast Asia are inherent in the process of nation-building itself, are a factor of the rapid globalization of recent years, or are simply an indication of the fact that the countries may not be fully ready for nationhood.

    Wang’s lecture proceeded to explore the problems of nation-building in several Southeast Asian nations in light of the current financial crisis in.  In  particular Wang focused on the role of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the failure of social scientists to predict the sudden changes in these nations.  He claims to be personally unconcerned by the failure of academic prediction, arguing that this is merely one part of longer-term process of nation building.  However, Wang expressed greater concern about the failure of ASEAN economic cooperation, calling the silence of ASEAN in the wake of the crisis ‘deafening.’

    According to Wang there is a general perception that ASEAN is lacking in new ideas.  Furthermore, he believes that the current economic difficulties “expose the total unreality of expanding” the organization, especially given the continuing controversy related to the admission of Cambodia.  Wang argues that in this context of ASEAN merely “marking time while sorting out what to do next,” the nation-building process may take on greater significance.  As for ASEAN itself, it is his belief that the organization must now reinvent itself if it is to survive and that it should look to APEC (the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum) for vitality.

    Of particular interest was the contrast Wang drew between Southeast Asian perspectives on nationalism in other nations and their self-perceptions of nationalism.  Wang notes that these nations regard nationalism in others as providing solidarity for the production of wealth and power, being necessary for national survival, creating sources of aggrandizement, and forming a “social cement” for immigrant states.  In their own states however, the Southeast Asian perspective is quite different:  nationalism serves as an expression of anti-colonialism and as an ideal road for nation-building.  In reality, the nationalisms of Southeast Asia seem to have spanned the two perspectives, filling a variety of roles.  For Vietnam and Burma, nationalism stands as a form of defensive anti-colonialism. The Cambodian experience can be seen as failed anti-colonialism, while Laotian nationalism has moved from defensive to wealth-producing.  The Singaporean approach has been one of nation-building via social engineering and multi-cultural political integration; the Philippine of nation-building via economic development; and the Malaysian approach a combination of the Singaporean and Philippine approaches.  Finally, the Indonesian approach appears to largely be one of nation-building via the assimilation of minorities.

    Wang concluded on a more hopeful note, arguing that the original members’ positive feelings for ASEAN and the potential for APEC support provide optimism for a Southeast Asian recovery.  Yet, he cautions that the role of an increasingly prosperous China may continue to create problems for the continued nation-building efforts of the nations.

    It is these issues that lay the ground for Wang’s current project.  The research is part of a larger project that brings together Wang’s broad perspective on Southeast Asian politics with those of five historians specializing in the history of nation-building in the five original ASEAN countries (the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore).  They hope to eventually produce a book-length manuscript on the topic.
    The staff and faculty of the East Asia Center hope that  Professor Wang will consider visiting UVA again in the future with further insights on Southeast Asia.

Professor Wang is a leading scholar on China and Southeast Asia and one of Asia’s most distinguished academics.  He is Director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, and previously has served as Vice-Chancellor (a position equivalent to that of President as the Governor is ex officio Chancellor) of the University of Hong Kong and Director of the Research School of Pacific Studies at Australian National University.  His many books include: China and the World since 1949; The Chineseness of China, Nationalism and Confucianism; China and the Chinese Overseas.

Photo: Professor Wang with Government Department graduate students Chris Roper, Hui- Wan Cho, Alice Ba, and Wimonkan Kosumas.

 East Asia Center and Related Speakers, Spring 1999

Friday, February 5  Bruce Brooks, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; “The Mencius and Modern Politics: Interim Report on a Cultural Revolution.” Minor Hall 125, 4:00 pm.

Tuesday, February 9 Ray Donahue, Nagoya Gakuin University; “Bridging Cultures:  On The Japanese Communication Style.”  Commonwealth Room, 3:00pm.  Co-sponsored by the Curry School of Education, the Women’s Studies Program, the Media Studies Program, and the Department of Anthropology.

Friday, February 19 Larry Epstein, University of Washington, on anthropological work in Tibetan areas of the People’s Republic of China.  Time and location TBA.

Thursday, February 25 Jenny So, Curator of Chinese Art, Freer and Sackler Galleries, “Music in Bronze Age China.” Campbell 153, 5:30pm.  Weedon Lecture Series, Bayly Art Museum.

Thursday, March 4 Edward Pratt, College of William and Mary; “The Village as Collectivity:  Cooperative Forms of Behavior in19th Century Japan.”  Commonwealth Room, 3:30 pm.

Friday, March 5 Charles Jones, The Catholic University of America; “The Philosophy of Pure Land Buddhism.”  Peabody 106, 4:00pm.

Thursday, March 25 Richard Katz, The Oriental Economist Report, “The Japan That Can’t Say Grow: Causes and Cure.” South Meeting Room, 3:00 pm

Friday, March 26* Korean Economic Institute Korea Seminar, 12-5 pm.  Location TBA.  *Date subject to change.

Wednesday, March 31 Dorothy Wong, UVA Department of Art; “Sealed Libraries and Buried Buddhist Treasures: Beliefs and Practices in Medieval China.” Campbell 153, 5:30 pm.  Weedon Lecture Series, Bayly Art Museum.

April 13-15 Richard J. Smith, Rice University, “Ordering the World and Fathoming the Cosmos: The I-Ching in China and Beyond.” Page-Barbour Lecture Series.  Time and location TBA.

Thursday, April 15 Elizabeth ten Grotenhuis, Boston University; “Japanese Pure Land Buddhist Art:  Building on the Chinese Legacy.” South Meeting Room 3:00 pm.  Co-sponsored by the Department of Art and the Bayly Art Museum.

Monday, April 19 Patricia Ebrey, University of Washington and Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton; “The Song Emperor Huizong (r. 1100-1125) and His Art Politics.” Commonwealth Room, 3:30 pm.  Co-sponsored by the Department of Art and the Bayly Art Museum.

 Wilson Re-explores Gender and Culture in Japan

    Michiko Wilson, Professor of Japanese Language and Literature, returned to Japan in October 1998 for the first time in eight years.  Wilson made the return trip for a variety of reasons, both personal and professional.  She originally left Japan in 1969, just on the verge of Japan’s economic explosion of the early 1970’s that lasted until the late 1980s.  Today she is excited about the types of changes in Japanese society she identified, some of which are related to and confirm her conclusions regarding gender studies found in her book.  During Wilson’s visit she stopped off at three prestigious academic institution both national and private—Nagoya University (the premier national institution in the Kansai area, in contrast to the Kanto/Tokyo area), Nagoya Gakuin University, and Nanzan University. She met with Japanese language instructors at these institutions and also gave a lecture at Nagoya Gakuin.  She also visited a number of very well-stocked bookstores, including one in Osaka with holdings exclusively devoted to Women’s Studies.

    On a more personal level, Wilson conceived of her time in Japan as a “cultural re-immersion.”  She notes that most middle-class Japanese are comfortable with the economic prosperity that the past quarter century has witnessed, in sharp contrast to the scorn that attended conspicuous consumption in her years growing up as well as past visits.  With the exception of bankers and those holding large investment portfolios, the Asian economic crisis at least on the surface does not seem to have made a large impact on the daily lives of most Japanese. While the strong work-ethic and devotion to one’s company or office has not slackened throughout the years, Wilson observed that (since she last visited) the younger generation enjoy a greater dialogue with their teachers and have even engaged in individualistic/rebellious behavior such as dying their hair.  Beyond the additions of CNN and satellite installations, she also regards the influence of (non-violent) Hollywood movies as a positive one on Japanese youth.  Each of these global media seem to be contributing toward a slow emergence from an “inarticulateness” engrained in Japanese society, leading to greater expression of opinion and even dissatisfaction.  Wilson laments that genuine dialogue, be it in the domestic realm or in public, is still lacking between males and females, except for between members of the younger generation on the verge of marriage.  Despite this, she did observe numerous occasions in which women of all ages were engaged in group activities such as travel (often in exclusively female groups), and participating in city-sponsored forums and neighborhood association types of activities.  Previously women simply were not seen involved in these type of public activities.  Wilson feels that Japanese females, more than males, are spontaneous than males and tend to engage in more dynamic and exciting relationships.  She cites the example of a friend’s daughter who is employed in the government.  This young lady feels that her male counterparts are fun-loving and dynamic until their loyalties shift to their job and they become a shakaijin, a social being.  This often means that they sacrifice their individuality.  The young woman, on the other hand, feels that there is more to life than that and wants to follow her own pursuits and dreams, and if she decides to marry, wants her husband to be an equal partner at home, a concept previously not considered.

    In summary, Wilson notes that women seem to enjoy markedly greater freedom in pursuing their interests but do not yet benefit from equal treatment and dialogue with men.  A detailed  exposition of her conclusions regarding gender culture in Japan is available in her recently-published Gender is Fair Game--(Re)thinking the (Fe)male in Ôba Minako.

Wilson poses with an ikebana flower arrangement.

Professor Israel’s Study of a Wartime Chinese University Published by Stanford University Press

    “Cuban invaders have occupied the east coast of the United States, the federal government has moved to Denver, and the students and professors of Harvard, Yale, and Swarthmore have relocated in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the duration of the conflict.”

    With these words, Professor of History John Israel begins his just-published Lianda: A Chinese University in War and Revolution  (Stanford University Press, 1998).   However, as Israel is quick to point out, there is no real American parallel to the experience of Beijing, Qinghua, and Nankai universities, which fled their north China campuses at the outset of the Second Sino-Japanese War and spent the period from 1938 to 1946 in the remote hinterland city of Kunming as an amalgamated institution, Southwest Associated University, better known by its Chinese abbreviation -- Lianda.

    Israel’s narrative seeks to account for the vitality of Lianda, a citadel of Anglo-American-style liberal education, in this unlikely setting.  He concludes: “By upholding the noblest qualities of mind and spirit under oppressive conditions, by demonstrating the resiliency of liberal education in an age of war and revolution, Lianda earned itself a chapter in the annals of human endeavor.”  As the Chinese people “enter the twenty-first century,” he foresees, “they will find value and inspiration in the Lianda experience.”

Chinese Researcher To Spend Semester at UVA

    Gu Xiaosong, Vice Director of the Southeast Asia Institute at Guangxi Provincial Academy of Social Science will join the University of Virginia’s academic community as a visiting researcher for the Spring term 1999.  Gu received a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies for his research here and will be working closely with UVA Professor Brantly Womack on border cooperation between China and Vietnam.  Gu will also be participating in a seminar led by Womack on Chinese relations with Southeast Asia.  Gu and Womack plan to present their initial research at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies in Boston this March.

    Gu is particularly interested in examining a number of issues concerning Sino-Vietnamese relations in his cooperative efforts with Professor Womack:  “How have China and Vietnam moved from hostile confrontation to relaxation?  What factors influence Sino-Vietnamese relations at present and in the future?  What form will they take into the twenty-first century?  What sort of influence will Sino-Vietnamese relations exerts on the global situation?”

    Womack and Gu have met with each other three times previously, in 1993 and 1994 in China and in 1995 in Australia, taking advantage of each of these occasions to exchange ideas on Sino-Vietnamese relations. Subsequently the two have kept in close correspondence through a mutual exchange of papers and research materials, thereby creating a relationship of close academic cooperation.  Having joined hands with Womack in this endeavor, Gu is very excited to fully utilize more advanced American research techniques as well as American resources for studying Sino-Vietnamese relations.  He believes that “a more intimate level of academic exchange between China and the United States will allow for a mutual correction of shortcomings and inspire new research ideas.”

Womack and Gu Xiaosong (2nd from right) and other Chinese Southeast Asian experts in Nanning, Guangxi, in 1993.

 1999 Page-Barbour Lecture to Focus on the I-Ching

    Eminent historian Richard J. Smith is this spring’s Page-Barbour lecturer.  Smith will present a three-part series entitled Ordering the World and Fathoming the Cosmos: The I-Ching in China and Beyond on April 13, 14 and 15.  Smith is Professor of History and Director of Asian Studies at Rice University.  In addition to having won many teaching awards, Smith has published numerous books on Chinese history and philosophy, including Fortune-tellers and Philosophers: Divination in Traditional Chinese Society (1991); Robert Hart and China’s Early Modernization (1991);  Chinese Almanacs (1992); Cosmology, Ontology, and Human Efficacy:  Essays in Chinese Thought (1993); China’s Cultural Heritage:  The Qing Dynasty, 1644-1912 (1994); and Chinese Maps:  Images of All Under Heaven (1996).  (Times and location TBA.)

The International Activities Planning Commission Looks to the Future
an interview with Brantly Womack, Commission Chair

    Brantly Womack, Professor of Government and Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Division of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures has recently begun work as Chair of the International Activities Planning Commission.  Womack claims that the task of the International Commission is perhaps the most diffuse of the four newly established presidential commissions.  He believes that “this is a good thing rather than a bad thing,”  noting that “if our task were to introduce a world out there to a separate and disjunctive UVA right here, then we would indeed be in a hopelessly backward and parochial situation.  As it is, the University and the world are already well mixed, and our task is to take stock of the current situation and to consider how the University might best structure and encourage its international programs and activities for continued growth and leadership in an ever more internationalized environment.”

A Sketch of the Current Situation

     Womack details several examples of greater internationalization in the university’s recent history.  For instance, at the undergraduate level, there are this semester over 2000 students taking 68 courses related to Asia and the Middle East. Additionally the number of foreign students here has risen 25% in the past few years. UVA is also the largest source of participants in the Japan English Teaching (JET) program run by the Japanese Embassy.

    Yet “there are also many blank spaces and difficulties in UVA’s current relations with the rest of the world. UVA does not have any regular courses in the languages, history or current affairs of Southeast Asia, a region of more than 400 million people.  Anyone who thinks that this area of the world does not merit our attention has forgotten the events of the 1960s. Currently the Center for South Asian Studies is the only federally funded area center at UVA.  Three years ago we had two, and fifteen years ago we had three.  Our language programs are generally of high quality, but there is little integration of language learning with the rest of the undergraduate curriculum.  Additionally, the University has relatively few study abroad programs and international exchange agreements.

    “There is also a less tangible problem that I hope the Commission can alleviate.  As the world has gotten smaller and more accessible, the University itself has gotten larger, and its parts have tended to become little worlds unto themselves.  It is a natural drift, but it debilitates our capacity as an academic community.  It has become clear to me in my conversations with deans and prospective members over the last few weeks that these worlds could benefit from creative interaction.  In general, Arts & Sciences could learn from the responsiveness to opportunities of the professional schools, while professional  schools could get more depth and educational value in interactions with input from Arts & Sciences.  The creation of a University-wide International Commission has created a unique opportunity for cross-fertilization and cooperation among the internal worlds of UVA as well as with the world outside.”

The Role of the Commission

    Womack argues that one of the Commission’s primary foci should be to encourage international activities of UVA students and scholars, including study abroad and research programs, as well as an emphasis on individual international initiatives.  It is also his desire that efforts be undertaken to enrich international education at UVA.  He further notes that this “should involve not only the improvement of programs with an explicit international orientation, such as foreign languages, but a consideration of how international content can be enhanced and coordinated more generally.  We should also work on developing programs and policies for international institutional  contacts and projects.  The most spectacular current project of this sort is of course the Qatar initiative [i.e., the proposed new University of Virginia site in the Middle Eastern nation of Qatar], but there are many other levels and venues of international institutional cooperation to be considered.”

    Womack does not view the Commission’s role as merely empirical problem solving, however.  He argues that “it must begin with a large dose of consciousness-raising, both within the Commission and more broadly throughout the University.  The issues and opportunities must be discussed, and energies must be stirred.  For example, if the foreign language faculty is not interested in integrating language learning and student language capacity with the rest of the undergraduate curriculum, then we could do research and demonstrate that a gap exists, perhaps, but we could not move forward.  International activities have always been at the periphery of the University's field of vision, and it will take considerable work to attract attention, refocus, and then move in new directions.”

    Thus Womack looks forward to increasing the Commission’s role and influence in ever-widening circles.  He notes that “we [the Commission] look forward to bringing speakers in to talk to larger audiences than simply the Commission itself, and we hope to hold a major conference on the international challenges of universities.  When we move to the development of specific proposals and agendas, we hope to involve a broader range of students, faculty and community members in our activities.  We are not aiming at producing a document, but at producing change.”


    Womack’s sense of humor prevails despite the daunting task ahead, as is evident in his final comments, “when this semester began, I thought that I had my hands full being chair of the Division of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures.  But then Brother John Casteen wrought a miracle, and I find that my hands are holding far more than I thought they could!  I don't know if my faith is strong enough, but I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the continued progress of UVA in its international activities.  The International Commission will mobilize the resources of the Academical Village to become a more global village.”


Each year the Grants Committee of the East Asia Center allocates money to be used to defray the cost of travel to East Asia by University faculty members and students.  These funds may be used to cover all or part of a round trip airfare between Charlottesville and East Asia. Travel within an East Asian country will not be covered by a Weedon travel grant.


The Ellen Bayard Weedon travel grant is available to any University of Virginia faculty member or student who:

In addition, student applicants must intend to enroll in structured programs offered by accredited academic institutions in East Asia, or plan to pursue a specific research project.


Applicants intending to spend two to eight weeks in East Asia under the conditions outlined herein may apply for a travel grant to cover partial (25% or more) round trip air fare between Charlottesville and East Asia.

Applicants intending to spend eight weeks or more in East Asia under the conditions outlined herein may apply for a travel grant to cover up to full round trip air fare between Charlottesville and East Asia

Under special circumstances students and faculty members may apply for up to full round trip air fare regardless of length of stay in East Asia, provided the trip has a sound and genuine professional or academic purpose, i.e., to attend a professional conference, to conduct research that can only be conducted in East Asia, etc.

These travel grants cannot be used cover the following:  (1) trips designed to enable a student or faculty member to simply "visit" East Asia, (2) in-country travel, (3) program and/or conference fees, (4) lodging and accommodations.


Travel grant applications shall be judged according to the selection committee's assessment of the quality of the applicant, the intellectual and academic cohesiveness of the applicant's project, and financial need.  Preference shall be given to the applicants who have not recently been to East Asia and, in the following order, to:

1. research, language and cultural study;
2. participation in study tours;
3. participation in conferences.

No single travel grant shall exceed one-third of available funds, and normally no more than half of the available funds shall be allocated to faculty members.


Application forms are available during office hours in the East Asia Center,  224 Minor Hall.  Completed applications are due by February 15, 1999 and should be returned to the East Asia Center.  (phone:  924-7836)


ANTH 366/766 China: Empire and Nationalities  Shepherd TR 1400-1515

AR H 382/582 East Asia Architecture    Huang  TR 1100-1215
AR H 588 Comparative Architecture      Huang  R 1530-1815

Art History
ARTH 262 East Asian Art       Wong  TR 1100-1215
ARTH 491 Ancient Chinese Art     Wong  T 1530-1800

Chinese Language and Literature
CHIN 102 Elementary Chinese       Roy/Shen MTWRF
CHIN 180 Chinese Calligraphy     Roy  W 1500-1700
CHIN 202 Intermediate Chinese     Shen/Roy MTWRF
CHIN 206 Accelerated Intermediate Chinese   Shen  MWF 1400-1500
CHIN 302/502 Readings in Modern Chinese     Kinney  TR 930-1045
CHIN 582 Media Chinese      Shen/Roy TR 1530-1645
CHIN 584 Topics in Chinese Literature     Kinney  TR 1100-1215

EDLF 765 Comparative Education     Hoffman R 900-1145
EDLF 770 Culture, Identity and Education    Hoffman T 900-1145

Government and Foreign Affairs
GFIR 424B Southeast Asia in World Affairs    Ba  TR 1530-1645
GFIR 571 China in World Affairs       Sutter  M 1600-1830
GFIR 872 China and Southeast Asia    Womack W 1400-1515
GFIR 572 Japan in World Affairs     Schoppa MW 1400-1515

East Asian History
HIEA 205 Korean Culture and Institutions    Dimberg MWF 0900-0950
HIEA 314 Political and Social Thought in Modern China  Israel  MW 1300-1350
HIEA 322 Japan’s Political History     Allinson  MWF 0900-0950
HIEA 402 A History Colloquium:  Japanese Self/Society  Allinson  W 1530-1800
HIEA 403 19th Century Korea:  Crises and Challenges   Dimberg R 1530-1800
HIEA 706 Modern China Seminar     Israel  M 1900-2130

Japanese Language and Literature
JAPN 102 Elementary Japanese     Koyama TR 1400-1515+drill
JAPN 202 Intermediate Japanese     Marshall TR 1100-1215+drill
JAPN 302/502 Advanced Reading and Conversation   Marshall MWF 1300-1350
JAPN 531 A Cultural Understanding of US-Japanese Relations Wilson  TR 1400-1515
JAPN 584 Advanced Reading &Conversation II   Ikeda  MW 1530-1645
JAPN 594 Advanced Reading &Conversation III   Wilson  TR 1600-1715

Japanese Literature in Translation
JPTR 341/541 Ideas and Images in Pre-Modern Japan   Ikeda  MW 1400-1515
JPTR 322/522 Women, Nature and Society in Japanese Fiction  Wilson  TR 1300-1415

Religious Studies
RELG 104 Introduction to Eastern Religions    Monius  TR 12:30-1:45
RELB 245 Zen       Groner  TR 1400-1515
RELB 315 Seminar on Buddhism and Gender   Lang  M1530-1800
RELB 536 Literary and Spoken Tibet IV    Hillis  TR 1530-1645
RELB 548 Literary and Spoken Tibet VI    Germano W 1800-2030
RELB 568 Seminar in Pure Land Buddhism    Groner  TR 1530-1645
RELB 703 Readings in Chinese Buddhist Texts   Groner  TBA
RELB 821 Literary and Spoken Tibet VII    Germano W 1800-2030

 Faculty News

In late January, Dorothy Wong will give a presentation entitled The Changing Notion of Buddhahood in Early Chinese Buddhist Art: A Sixth-Century Stele from the Shaolin Monastery for the Traditional China Seminar, Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton. At the College Art Association annual meeting in Los Angeles in February, she will co-chair a panel on Monks and Nuns as Patrons and Subjects in Buddhist Art; at which she will also give a paper entitled Constructing Images of Xuanzang in China and Japan. From the renowned Buddhist translator to the founder of a Buddhist sect, the pious pilgrim, or the folk hero accompanied by monkey, Xuanzang assumes various personas in literature and visual representation. This paper explores the origins and diverse functions of these images, and their intended audience.

Brantly Womack has been elected Vice President of the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies and will become President of the organization in 2000.  He also has been selected to the be representative of the Southeast Conference to the national Association for Asian Studies.

Student News

Norm Apter, MA student in East Asian Studies, will present “The First Emperor’s Necropolis: An Embodiment of Cosmological Reordering in Pre-Imperial China” at the Eighth Annual Graduate Student Conference on East Asia at Columbia University on February 6, 1999.

Chris Roper, PhD candidate in Government and Foreign Affairs concentrating on China and Southeast Asia, will present his paper, “The Effects of Changing Sino-Vietnamese Relations on the Economy of Vietnam's Border Provinces, 1960-1990” in Boston at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies from March 11– 14, 1999.